Under The Hatch, Destination Unknown – AutoCrit Writing Challenge

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve shared any of my actual writing on my blog that isn’t poetry but here we are, today I am going to share with you my entry for the Destination Unknown writing challenge on AutoCrit. The first line and last line were given to us and then we could write whatever we wanted for the rest of it, we just had to write 1000 words (or there about).

Under The Hatch, Destination Unknown AutoCrit writing challenge, title image

We reached the third day of our journey and, to be honest, things were not going well.

The rain was pelting down onto the roof of the car, Rosie and Melissa had parked up a few minutes previously with the idea of trying to figure out where they were. They’d discovered a paper map in the glove compartment, it looked like it had been there for years, it probably had.

Melissa opened it up, searching for their general whereabouts on the pages.
“Give it here, you’re hopeless with maps.”
Melissa reluctantly handed it to her.

Rosie found the page she thought their location might be on and scanned across it until she came to a place name she thought she remembered seeing a mile or so back, “if we take a left and a right out of here, we’ll be going in the right direction.”
“How sure are you?”
“I’m pretty sure.” Rosie handed the map back to her, the rain had begun to ease a bit. She started the engine and reversed back so she could turn the car around and leave the car park again.

They continued on the road and turned right into a lane. It was near enough deserted, they’d hardly seen any other cars since they’d left the motorway. They’d been going along for a few minutes when they came to a stop again, up ahead it was impassable, totally flooded.

Melissa looked around, “how long away do you think we are now?”
“I reckon it should be just over there.”
“What, just past this wooded area?”
“I guess we’ll have to try going on foot.”
“We’re actually going to walk through there?”
“Come on, it can’t be far. It’s hardly raining now.” Rosie parked up in a parking space just off of the road.

“Do I really look dressed to be walking in the woods?”
“I’ve got a spare pair of trainers in the back you can borrow.” Rosie offered.
“I don’t know why you talked me into this.” Melissa got out of the car and went to the boot, when she had changed her footwear she switched on her phone.
“I thought you were going to be preserving the battery on that.”
“Since you lost yours last night you mean, but as you seem to think we’re nearly there now…” Melissa put it back in her pocket again.

They had decided to go out and explore the town they’d stopped over in the previous evening and when they’d woken up that morning Rosie couldn’t find her mobile, it didn’t help that hers was the one with the contact numbers of the other people they were supposed to be meeting up with, now they had no way of contacting them and just brief directions to go on that Rosie had written down before they’d left home three days ago.

Melissa and Rosie headed off into the woods, even though the wind was barely a breeze it still made the leaves rustle as they walked. They continued on in silence for a while, except for the trees and their footsteps on the muddy track.

They came to a hatch in the centre of a clearing, next to a road that cut across the middle of the forest, “this must be it.” Rosie went to lift the door, “I think it’s stuck.”
“Here let me try,” Melissa attempted to pull it open, it still wouldn’t move.
Rosie walked around the other side of her and both of them at the same time tried to shift it, finally it lifted up and a light automatically switched on below them, “what’s down there?” Melissa asked.
“Not a clue, the note just said it would be in the room under the hatch,” Rosie shrugged. She started descending the steps, the narrow staircase was surrounded by concrete with a rail running parallel to the stairs on one side.

When she got to the bottom Rosie looked around, there was a door off to the right then a corridor which was more dimly lit than the stair area, off of that was another door that lead into another room with a second further along. Rosie started walking towards the first one, Melissa followed. Melissa pushed the door open and they went inside. It was empty except for a square shaped box, around a ruler in height on a table in the centre of the room. No one else was there but them and this cardboard cube. It was eerily quiet.

“I thought you said someone was meeting us here,” Melissa questioned her.
“Well they said they might, they must have been held up.”
“Should we look inside?” Melissa walked a little closer to it.
Rosie joined her next to it, she hesitated before lifting the lid. In it was a single note stuck to the bottom of it. She picked it up and looked at it.

“Seriously, a three day trip and all that’s here is a piece of paper?” Melissa exclaimed, “what does it even say?”
There were only a few words scrawled across it. Rosie read it out, “carrots, potatoes, tomatoes. What is a shopping list doing here?” she looked bemused.
“What about the other room down the end?” Melissa suggested.

They set off for the other room, when they got there Rosie hesitated, “do you even know what we’re looking for?”
“They said it would be obvious when we saw it.”
Melissa tried to undo the door but it was stuck, “is it locked?”
Rosie gave it another firm push and it opened.

This time there was a wire basket with a canvas bag inside, except it had tipped over and was laying on its side. There were a few other containers in the room but they looked just as empty.

“I don’t know what we’re looking for but I don’t think it’s any of this.” Melissa said.
“Maybe we should just get out of here, we’re not gaining anything by staying. Unless they already came here? They specifically told us to get it though, whatever it was… I don’t get it, we’d better go and meet them.”

When they exited the room they ascended the stairs back outside. Rosie felt the cool air on her as she left the hatch, Melissa not far behind her. They were glad to be back above ground again. Rosie looked up towards the trees and thought to herself,

I’d rather be a bird than a fish.

…and that is the end of my short story!

I got totally stuck when it came to them going down the hatch, I seemed to end up writing myself into a corner that I couldn’t get out of – I’m still not sure what they were actually looking for! It’s taken me until this challenge but after starting to use AutoCrit I’m finally figuring out how to show not tell with writing, I didn’t have enough time to finish working on that with this one though, I was up until half two working on this last night as it was. I hope you enjoyed reading it.


6 thoughts on “Under The Hatch, Destination Unknown – AutoCrit Writing Challenge

  1. Sarah

    I really enjoyed reading this. Working on show not tell is something a lot of writers struggle with at first. Hell, even after years of writing stories I still struggle with this at times, but you have a nice little story here and the more you write the easier it will be. I hope you share more of your stories in the future.


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